The US Missile Defense Agency (MDA) has a request for $9.9 billion in 2019. Part of the request is $120 million to develop hypersonic missile defenses, a big increase from the $75 million in fiscal 2018.
“China’s hypersonic weapons development outpaces ours … we’re falling behind,” Adm. Harry Harris, who heads the military’s Pacific Command, warned lawmakers Wednesday.
China has developed — and last year tested — a new type of hypersonic missile called the DF-17. The U.S. Office of the Director of National Intelligence this week stated China “has tested a hypersonic glide vehicle.”
The budget appeal comes just months after Chinese state media reports it had successfully tested hypersonic warheads and was now moving on to full-scale production.
Russia too is believed to be developing its own hypersonic weapon called the Zircon. According to Russian news agency Tass, it is to go into serial production this year.
Though the Pentagon is warning about hypersonics, the United States has been developing the technology for years.
The U.S. Air Force says its X-51A Waverider cruise missile, tested in 2012, could travel at speeds faster than Mach 6 (5,800 kph).